Vice News, a left-leaning publication, has provided compelling evidence that Twitter is limiting the visibility of prominent Republicans in search results, colloquially known as “shadow banning.”
The chair of the Republican Party, Ronna McDaniel, several conservative Republican congressmen, and certain administration officials did not appear in the auto-populated drop-down search box on Twitter. It’s a deliberate attempt to de-emphasize their reach on the platform.
McDaniel’s counterpart, Democratic Party chair Tom Perez and outspoken liberal members of Congress – including Rep. Maxine Waters – appear in drop-down search results. Not a single member of the 78-person Progressive Caucus faces the same discrimination as those on the political right.
Vice News reports:
“The notion that social media companies would suppress certain political points of view should concern every American,” McDaniel told VICE News in a statement. “Twitter owes the public answers to what’s really going on.”
Presented with screenshots of the searches, a Twitter spokesperson told VICE News: “We are aware that some accounts are not automatically populating in our search box and shipping a change to address this.” Asked why only conservative Republicans appear to be affected and not liberal Democrats, the spokesperson wrote: “I’d emphasize that our technology is based on account *behavior* not the content of Tweets.”
Twitter directed VICE News to a May 15 blog post that explained the company’s new approach to combating “troll-like behaviors.” After making changes to its platform, the company said that “[t]he result is that people contributing to the healthy conversation will be more visible in conversations and search.”
Twitter did not respond to a follow-up question.
In an attempt to build rapport with conservatives, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently convened a dinner in Washington, D.C. with White House advisor Mercedes Schlapp, Fox News commentator Guy Benson, and tax-reform activist Grover Norquist.
Now, that tenuous goodwill has all but evaporated.
For his part, President Trump accused Twitter today of “discriminatory and illegal practice,” and vowed to investigate the matter.
Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
Investors, wary of Facebook’s stock market plunge – the social media giant is on pace for its worst day ever – shed Twitter shares after the president’s comments.